16 April 2021 The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic

16 April 2021 The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic

Friday, 16 April 2021

Dacic and Brnabic: Talks about Constitutional Amendment Refer Only to Judiciary

The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic said that the constitutional amendments discussed at the sitting of the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues refer only to the judiciary and the talks that the preamble on Kosovo would be deleted through constitutional changes are misinformation.

He pointed out that changing the Constitution is one of the most important procedures within the Assembly’s competence and the job awaiting the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues is immense.

Dacic explained that now the Committee can propose entering into constitutional changes and a special Assembly session has to be convened which can only adopt or not adopt the proposal to initiate changes, but cannot change the proposal.

The proposal is then adopted by a two-thirds majority, and then the draft act - text of the changes, is determined by the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues and is submitted to the Assembly, along with a proposal to call a referendum on the constitutional amendment.

Dacic pointed out that, if there is an early parliamentary election, the Assembly will have to be dissolved, so it is not possible to hold that referendum on election day.

As he said, what is now being discussed is whether and which part of the Constitution should be changed, and not the amendments themselves.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that the goal of the constitutional amendments is to achieve a judiciary that is responsible and tailored to all the citizens of Serbia.

"An independent, efficient, responsible judiciary, which the citizens and the economy can rely on and believe that justice will be the same for all and achieved within a reasonable time", Brnabic said.

She pointed out that constitutional changes are one of the things on the European path, but that it is not done only because of the EU.

Brnabic said that the Constitution had been changed in a more comprehensive way in the past, but the public was not consulted and by doing this Serbia is making a step forward in terms of the rule of law and setting a standard that will have to be respected in the future.

"We did all this in close coordination with the Venice Commission and received an approval for the amendments proposed by the Ministry of Justice after 18 months of public debate," Brnabic said.

Minister of Justice Maja Popovic stated that the Supreme Court of Cassation will be called the Supreme Court after the constitutional changes, the composition of the High Judicial Council will change - instead of 11 members elected by the Serbian Assembly, it will have 10, five of whom will be elected from the ranks of prominent lawyers by the Assembly, and five will be elected by judges.

The State Prosecutorial Council will change its name to the High Prosecutorial Council and will have 10 members, four will be elected by the Assembly from among prominent lawyers by a two-thirds majority, four members will be elected by prosecutors and deputy prosecutors, and the Supreme Public Prosecutor and Minister of Justice will be members by virtue of office.

Prosecutors and judges elected to the office for the first time will be elected by the High Prosecutorial Council and High Judicial Council and only if they have completed training at the Judicial Academy.

Dacic said that what the minister was talking about was not the topic now, that now it was being decided whether the Constitution would be changed or not, and not about amendments.

He opined that another round of consultations is needed, and called for the categories not to be changed and for the mutual control between the three branches of government not to be called mutual checks.

"Do not change the categories that have existed for 200, 300 years in the political system. That is not an essential issue for the justice", said Dacic, adding that the competencies of the Assembly are often attacked by the executive.

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